Plain English: May 2010 Archives
Writing about food, eating and drinking - as distinct from how-to cookery manuals - goes back at least to antiquity, from Juvenal's biting Satires and Petronius's detailing of the excesses of Trimalchio's feast, to the dietary prohibitions of the Old Testament. It would be both interesting and a little tedious to trace food writing through the ages; however, there has always been a self-consciously literary tradition, as in Petronius's mocking exaggerations of a decadent Roman cena. In the hands of really good writers, as we've seen in our own time in the work of Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson, even collections of recipes can have literary worth - though this is exceptional, and most writers of recipes do not have literary pretensions, or even ambitions.
Something new is happening, though. Julie Powell's Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which had its origins online in a blog, has turned into a movie with a magnificent role for Meryl Streep. One of the effects of this has been to make high-end food a subject for mainstream entertainment - as it has been for 25 years anyway for affluent urbanites, for whom eating out is a major leisure activity (as Social Trends reported yet again in 2006), and cooking a hobby. But perhaps the correct way to view this is as the crest of a foodie wave, in which people are thinking and writing about food in all sorts of novel ways.
Religion is a difficult subject for me. I hate it - but I'm fascinated by the details of religions - liturgical, scriptural, ceremonial, even ecclesiastical - the whole lot. I feel that all religious belief is childish and weak, and I've never understood why believing you have an Imaginary Friend, and that you can pray or talk to him should make you a happier or better person. But it's the belief part I don't get: I'm riveted by the detail of the rituals you practice to get in touch with him, and, of course, recognize the genius of the artists, musicians and architects who claim they have been inspired by him and his sacraments, rules and the disputes these have caused. For all my militancy, I'm a sort of pious atheist, as my friend Dr. Jonathan Miller says we should all be.
"England's Mozart" one critic dubbed the young Thomas Adès a few years ago. I very much hoped this was true, as our visitors' book has an entry for 9-10 September 1978 in firm, legible, scarily grown-up handwriting, the name and address of the six-year-old Thomas, along with those of his mother and younger brother. Now 39, Adès seems at the height of his powers as a composer, with two operas, a piano concerto, a violin concerto and plenty of other orchestral works to his credit. He is also renowned (and in demand) as a conductor. But until April 27th in a piano recital at the Barbican, I had not heard him perform. Now I'd be more inclined to say he is "England's Liszt," as he is that (currently) rare thing a composer who is a virtuoso pianist.
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Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
David Jays on theatre and dance
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
John Rockwell on the arts
innovations and impediments in not-for-profit arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Joe Horowitz on music
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary